Guys, Wrote this for a different technology forum which is not lapto centric though, so forgive some basic laptop n00b friendly stuff in there:
I am not a big desktop fan, and I love the untethered feeling one gets with a laptop, especially small & light laptops.
Having said that, gaming is 1 area where laptops lose big time over desktops. I am not much of a gamer, but I do enjoy the ocasional frag fest on UT or love dabbling in racing games like NFS-MW or RPGs like Dreamfall. That is where lappies would let let me down.
So far, there were very few laptops available which have a decent GPU built in and nearly all of them were 15.4" or above in size and weighed over 6-7 Lbs, and that for me made invalid the very reason I prefer notebooks.
However, when I saw the Sony Vaio SZ series followed soon after by Dell's XPS M1210 (13.3/12.1 WXGA respective and both weigh below 4lbs) , my interest in a laptop for ocasional gaming got fueled again as both run a Go7400 GPU which though (Obviously) not in the league of the big-bad boys, are good enough for a casual gamer like I .
Both the machines were almost similarly priced, around the $1600-1800 mark, the configuration was pretty much the same
The Sony had a marginally bigger screen in its favor, but the Dell was smaller in size.
I was like totally and utterly confused.
After a lot of deliberation, hours of research and inputs from a dear friend in the US who agreed to go down to a store to take a look at the Vaio SZ , here is the conclusion I came to:
Pros: Sleeker looks, thinner shell, slightly bigger screen, Slightly lighter
Cons: Questionable build quality (Apparently the lappy feels quite flimsy), slightly bigger form factor
Pros: The sweet sturdy build, 1 year complete cover (incl. accidental damage), slightly smaller form factor, tru-life screen
Cons: Bland looks, slightly smaller screen (12.1"), slightly heavier
Since the build quality is something I could not compromise on (I am a rather sloppy person, and am incapable of taking good care of my stuff ), eventually decided in favor of the Dell
On a side note, here is a big note of thanks to a friend who helped sweeten the Dell deal by quite a bit
SO I finally ordered the Dell on the 12th of August, and got the delivery on the 27th
* Intel Core Duo T2400 1.86 Ghz
* 667 MHZ FSB
* 12.1" True-life WXGA LCD
* 1 GB 667 mhz 512X2 running in dual channel
* nVidia GeForce Go7400
* 80 GB 5400 RPM SATA Hard Drive
* Integrated WebCam & Mic
* 3945 a/b/g wireless + BT
* 4 USB Ports, 1 Firewire, VGA out, S video out
* Memory Stick/SD Slot
Design, Looks & Build
The first thing that struck me when i opened the box was the size of the lappy, or rather the lack of it
It has the size of a A4 sheet
(A4 sheet placed on top)
Add to it the fact that it is a 2kg notebook and what you have is a fairly portable machine that you can actually hold on one palm and work with the other hand.
The Black/Silver color combination looks nice though the Blue LED buttons on the front side for Media direct look a little tacky
The good: Very light, Sweet screen with nice wide viewing angles
Very sturdy Mg- Alloy case with no hint of flex on the screen and the body, The rotating webcam is a nice touch
The bad: fingerprint stain prone, keyboard a little cramped,
Since the resolution is a sweet 1280X800, the small screen is not a bother at all. In fact the crispness of the display makes working on this 12.1" a little more than effective the 14.1" on my Compaq
Absolutely no issues while doing regular work on it.
However, movies (esp non widescreen ) look a tad too small on it.
The backlight is really bright, and I need to keep it two-three notches below the max most of the time.
The integrated webcam is OK, nothing great. Takes very decent pics in good lighting but pales out if the lighting is even marginally bad.
The directional Mic on the Cam is pretty good though.
The viewing angles are very decent (Auo screen) and overall, the screen looks a lot better than my older Compaq V2000 and IBM R51.
I would rate it at par with my Fujitsu s2110 (though XGA) but the viewing angles aren't anywhere as good as that on my Sony HS95 LCD monitor (Desktop)
The screen at medium brightness
Peripherals and connectivity:
4 USB ports, 1 firewire, modular DVD drive, Wireless a/b/g, card reader..this is
one department I can't complain about
Heat, noise, other irritants
The fan is usually off or running at low speeds most of the time, and is barely a bother
However, while running games, the fan comes up at full swing and though it is still silent, is my left palm is next to the fan vent (which it usually is, as my left fingers are on the w-a-s-d buttons while gaming, the warm-hot breeze can get pretty uncomfortable. If only they had kept the cooling fan on the back side
Thankfully The palmrest area runs cool all the time
The speakers have decent clarity but absolutely lack bass but can't really crib as it would be foolish to expect decent bass on a laptop
There are three 1/8" stereo jacks. Two for the L/R, one for mic. The two L/R jack is a good to have thing if two people are watching a movie.
The Internal Audigy(?) Sound card can be switched to 5.1 in which case all the 3 1/8" jacks work as audio outputs for the six channels.
There is also a digital SP/DIF out though no TOSLINK optical out
The first thing i did after getting the lappy was to run a full system diagnostic from UBCD and the Dell diagnostics utility
Next, I formatted and partitioned the Drive to 20/60 followed by a clean windows & drivers install.
Boot time: Windows fresh install with just the basic startup items:
Press-On to POST -> Windows startup screen: 6 seconds
startup screen to complete loading: 21 seconds
Total- 27 seconds
2M- 1 min, 16 seconds
After the registry tweak to eliminate choppiness,
Medium detail settings, I get 40-50 fps consistently
Very fluid gameplay
and 15-25 with 2XAA
Funny why the FPS figure is so low here
However the Gameplay stays pretty fluid being a Third person perpective game
I ran the notebook from fullcharge to 100% charge to 10% . I kept using the notebook all the while with LCD brightness 2 notches below Max with iTunes running and browsing on firefox while downloading some stuff ....Total time: 3:10 mins
Finally a laptop that will keep me happy for a while now.
It is a difficult task to get a portable machine that is realllyyyy portable , still feels sturdy and yet has enough grunt to admirably handle the latest games.
I had almost stopped PC gaming altogether because I hate gaming while slouched on a chair.
I can happily curl up on a beanbag or lie down on my couch now yet manage to dabble in the latest games :hap2:
Also, the nice size and the weight of this lappy enable me to quickly tuck it away in my backpack, and take it travelling with me.
Actually, there is nothing much to crib about on this puppy!
And I for one, am definitely loving this toy!!!